The Bees' Needs

Amid the Netflix furor, my husband and I popped in the disc for The Vanishing of the Bees. "I don't really want to see it," said the hub, "but I probably should." Not just because we were paying good money for the privilege of having that disc at home and will soon be paying more, but because I often subject him to Frightening Food Films, including Food, Inc., Super Size Me, and even, indirectly, Temple Grandin or Napoleon Dynamite.

The Vanishing of the Bees went beyond a "should watch" in our house because I'd been hearing about the mysterious, widespread disappearance of honeybees in North America (had no idea it was a global phenomenon) and was aware of random efforts like Haagen-Dazs's "Help the Honeybees" ice-cream fundraiser, but--even closer to home--we're a family of honey-eaters. Yes, 1/3 or more of the world's food supply might depend on the efforts of the humble honeybee, but when that fraction is your 1/3, you'll really sit up and take notice!

Top Five Uses for Honey in Our Household:

  1. To sweeten the afternoon tea.
  2. For my son's peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches. The kid does not do jam.
  3. For making Deborah Madison's granola. Her Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone gets put through its paces in our house (and we're not even vegetarians). Here's a link to the easy, tasty recipe.
  4. To dribble on hot-from-the-oven buttered biscuits. (Also Deborah Madison's recipe, with 1/3 graham flour substituted.)
  5. To mix into Samish Bay's Greek Yogurt, along with a sprinkling of granola. (See #3)

Featuring beekeepers, farmers, politicians, Michael Pollan (no pun intended), and thousands of the little buzzers themselves, Vanishing of the Bees builds a compelling case for the crucial role bees play in the global food supply and what could be possibly leading to their catastrophic losses in so-called "Colony Collapse Disorder." Both a scary movie and a hopeful one. It made my husband want to keep a little colony in our backyard, following in the footsteps of his step-grandfather, who decades ago raised bees in Dayton, Washington, selling both honey and honeycomb locally. Thankfully this urge passed, since, in true UrbanFarmJunkie fashion, I would rather just pay the experts to do it.

Bellevue Farmers Market vendor Daniel's Honey of Black Diamond can be found on both Thursdays and Saturdays. I bought the monster 40-ounce jar for the discount and also because I like my honey stored in glass. That way, when it starts to crystallize, as all honey does, I can just give it a quick nuke in the microwave. Real honey from real local beekeepers is liquid gold--that was the sidebar I learned from the movie. Frequently, imported "honey" is adulterated with all manner of things to bring down its price. Chinese honey, in particular, has been called out several times, both for containing adulterations like high-fructose corn syrup and antibiotics banned in the U.S. But, hey, our country demands a cheap honey supply for its multitudinous processed foods.

With honey especially, buy local and know your farmer!